Free Data Security Plan Template Courtesy of Canopy
Larry Furr, Chief Product Officer at Canopy, joins Andrew Lassise to talk about accounting practice management software and specifically Canopy. You can listen to the episode below, watch the video or read the article, which is based on the interview.
Who is Larry Furr, Chief Product Officer at Canopy?
Larry has been building cloud-based software for over a decade and joined Canopy in 2019 to help the company get “to the next level.”
“What gets me up in the morning is to build software that delights your customers,” Larry said. “Software that makes their lives easier, empowers them and I saw with Canopy a real opportunity to do that.”
Larry has worked in a number of industries, which he says helps him find ways to create better accounting practice management software.
What is Canopy?
Canopy is a practice management software solution in the accounting space and has been around since 2014. “We build software for accountants that gives them more time doing the things they love,” Larry said. “Working with customers, advising them and spending less time doing tedious, repetitive busy work.”
People see Canopy as a Swiss Army knife solution, can take the place of other software tools and allows companies to bundle their software. Canopy is a:
- document-management system
- workflow and task-management system
- time-tracking system
- billing system
- system that can be used with your accounting firm’s customers as well
“Everything is integrated and works together,” Larry told Andrew. “You can get all that under Canopy where it works seamlessly.”
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How does Canopy software evolve?
Larry explained that the team spends hours each week listening to customers about their needs, problems that need to be solved and wishes about software updates. Identifying bottle necks can be helpful as well.
From there, the product map evolves and updates are made based on where accounting firms need help.
Canopy staff also has worked on-site with customers pre-COVID to learn how accountants work and how the software can help them do that more efficiently.
“You learn so much when you go on-site and see how people work,” Larry said. “You get an appreciation of what can be a hectic and frantic workday for CPAs. All of that input we then use to map out what we are going to build.”
Canopy has also set up a Facebook Group for its users to allow the community to learn from each other.
“It helps us be plugged in with our end users,” Larry said. “They are quick to tell us what they don’t like and I prefer that. That way we know what areas we need to work on.”
Andrew shared that Rush does an immediate survey with customers after a support call was completed. That’s a good way to get feedback as well on what we can do better.
“One of the tricks is to listen to your customers and work on their lists and not your list,” Larry added. “That’s a trap technology leaders can fall into.”
Sometimes that means creating features that aren’t traditional or natural for cloud companies. For example, Larry mentioned the “print to” feature where accountants basically move content from one program to another through the printing function. That wasn’t available in Canopy initially but was then added due to customer demand and need.
[Tweet “Sometimes you have to build what the customer wants, – @larryfurr”]
This feature has also helped clients migrate documents from one service into Canopy.
The power of integration
Another solution accountants look for is integration and that’s what Larry and his team are focusing on now.
“Is Canopy going to build a bookkeeping solution? Not anytime soon if ever,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t play nice with bookkeeping software that is out there.” That includes launching a public API for Canopy.
“My vision is to build this partner ecosystem where Canopy can plug and play with a lot of different solutions,” Larry said. “We started that with Zapier … which sends zaps between your products. Ultimately we want to integrate with bookkeeping software and tax preparation software and other things that people use. That’s another way to delight customers.”
[Tweet “Delight customers by integrating with other tools they use – @larryfurr”]
Integrating with the most popular tools customers use already makes sense and is customer-focused, Larry explained.
The reluctance to change
We discussed at length in our cloud accounting article that some people are reluctant to change, but some changes – like two-factor authentication – are necessary to not fall victim to a data breach. Other changes make processes simpler.
Read next: 2FA for Accounting Firms – is it necessary?
People do gravitate toward what they are familiar with, Andrew added.
“There are so many different ways to do things better,” Larry added. “CPAs are a particular group of folks who haven’t embraced cloud technology like other industries have. So there’s an opportunity to come in and say ‘there’s a better way to do this’.”